If you’ve ever studied mathematics beyond the basics, you’re probably familiar with the name Leonhard Euler. He was a prolific author and versatile mathematician who left a lasting impact on calculus and the study of differential equations. But who was Euler really? What made him so special? Ronald S. Calinger answers these questions and more in his comprehensive biography, “Leonhard Euler: Mathematical Genius in the Enlightenment.”
Calinger, an historian of mathematics and an Euler scholar, delves into Euler’s life and work, meticulously tracing his time at the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg and the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin. He examines Euler’s major contributions to mathematics, from establishing the foundation for differential equations to making pioneering developments in number theory and topology. Through Calinger’s research and writing, we gain a deeper understanding of Euler’s genius and his impact on the field of modern applied mathematics.
But this biography is more than just a collection of facts and accomplishments. Calinger brings Euler to life by exploring the environment in which he lived and worked. We learn about the challenges and frustrations he faced, such as opposition from the Orthodox Church and the aristocracy in Russia and a lack of support from Frederick II in Prussia. We also discover intimate details about Euler’s personal life, such as his love for smoking Virginia tobacco, playing chess, and performing on the clavier. These details humanize Euler and make him relatable to us, the readers.
“Leonhard Euler: Mathematical Genius in the Enlightenment” is not just an informative and well-researched resource, but also a captivating read. Calinger’s writing style makes complex mathematical concepts accessible to all, while still providing a deep dive into Euler’s life and times. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in Euler, mathematics, or the Enlightenment era. It is sure to be a definitive reference for years to come.